Tearing Down A City To Build A Shopping Mall

1695 words - 7 pages

Tearing Down a City to Build a Shopping Mall

I exited US Highway 101 South at Madonna Road, squinting into the sun through the windshield of a friends borrowed truck. As I neared the Central Coast Plaza that includes Staples, Bed Bath & Beyond and other retailers, I wondered what was to become of the Dalidio farmland, just south of the shopping center. 130acres of farmland sit just ten yards from the center, separated only by the newly paved Dalidio Road. I thought about how neat it is that we can have agriculture in such close proximity to large scale retail and both can prosper. I parked the truck in the plaza parking lot and strolled across the street to get a sense of the farmland. Rows and rows of cabbage lay in front of me, with tractors scattered, idle in the fields after a hard day of work. A slight breeze accompanied the warm, late afternoon sun. Sunlight leaked through the lines of eucalyptus trees on my right, and it looked as if the sun were meant to shine on these crops for years to come. A dirt path surrounds each field, making a perfect trail for me to saunter on. Just next to Highway 101, the Dalidio farmland paints a beautiful picture of the central coast of California. Despite my positive feelings and the serene look of this agricultural land, the future of the Dalidio farmland is being threatened. On April 26, 2005, voters will decide whether or not a 650,000 square foot shopping center will replace the Dalidio farmland. My spirits were crushed when I realized that this area could soon be destroyed by an enormous retail center. An additional shopping center of this size will ruin the unique economic structure of San Luis Obispo, while also slowly dissolving the city’s small town feel. Small business will suffer the loss ; the citizens will lose tax dollars, and the economy of the city of San Luis Obispo will suffer greatly in the future.

Ernie Dalidio, a wealthy farmer and owner of the currently disputed agricultural land, decided over a decade ago that it was time to quit cultivating on this plot of land. At the time, he was farming another parcel of land near Cayucos, California and had his hands full. Retail was rapidly replacing formerly cultivated land all around him, so he felt inclined to do the same. He hired Bill Bird, a local developer and businessman, who had developed the neighboring Central Coast Plaza. Bird and Dalidio were ready to sign the papers that would authorize construction of the project, however Bird had other problems. A lawsuit had recently been filed against him regarding his development of the Central Coast Plaza. He owed thousands of dollars in back taxes, and had neglected to pay them. The following ten-year period was plagued by lawsuits and large-scale money disputes, delaying the construction of the development. The city left it up to Bird and Dalidio to resolve the problems; they ended up waiting over a decade before finally approving the development on July...

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